JFK travelers alert to new Omicron COVID-19 variant – Community News
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JFK travelers alert to new Omicron COVID-19 variant

Djily Mbacke has cut short his visit to his family in Senegal because of Omicron.

The latest COVID-19 variant showed up 6,000 miles away from Senegal in South Africa, but Mbacke, 57, was convinced it was time to go.

“I think it’s bad,” the North Carolina native said of the new variant as he passed John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday. “Man, I was afraid of that – that’s why I came back.”

“As a result, I stopped my vacation,” he added, although he said there were only two or three cases in Senegal.

The Omicron variant has been found among travelers in the UK, Germany and the Czech Republic, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday it may have already reached the US, although the CDC said no cases have been reported so far.

While no direct flights from South Africa arrived at JFK on Saturday, other travelers who visited the continent said they were aware of the latest mutation of the virus.

Numerous flights will be canceled immediately on November 27, 2021 at OR Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Numerous flights were immediately canceled on November 27, 2021 at OR Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
EPA
Djily Mbacke, aged 57, from Senegal, Africa, arrives at International Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in Queens, NY.
Djily Mbacke says there are only two or three cases of COVID-19 of the Omicron variant in Senegal.
Brigitte Stelzer
112721 From left to right: The newlyweds Shaina 25 years old and Neville Gregory 26 years old arrive from Tanzania, Africa at International Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in Queens, NY.  A new Covid-19 variant, the Omicron is found in Africa.  “NY Post House”
Shaina Gregory (left) says not many people wore masks in Tanzania.
BRIGITTE STELZER

“This is what it’s going to be,” said Ebenizer, a Maryland resident returning from Nairobi, Kenya, who asked not to use his last name. “There will be more variants, just like the flu. I’m not scared at all.”

Maine residents Shaina and Neville Gregory returned from their honeymoon in Tanzania.

“The problem is, people were wary from the start once the vaccine came out,” says Shaina Gregory, 25. “People from the start of the virus weren’t careful, that’s why it got worse to where it is now.”

Numerous flights will be canceled immediately on November 27, 2021 at OR Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Numerous flights will be canceled immediately on November 27, 2021 at OR Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
EPA
Travelers have been stranded at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa after their flights were canceled on November 27, 2021.
Travelers have been stranded at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa after their flights were cancelled.
AFP via Getty Images
Many countries have banned flights from South Africa in response to the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 strain.
Many countries have banned flights from South Africa in response to the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 strain.
AFP via Getty Images

She noted that masks are rarely worn in Tanzania, about 2,500 miles northeast of South Africa.

That’s also a problem in the US, according to Epifana Qintana, a New Jersey landscaping company owner who was on his way to Paraguay. “So many people don’t have the vaccine and there are so many people who don’t use the mask,” she lamented.

Petra Heilmann, 57, flew to NYC from Frankfurt, Germany, to do some Christmas shopping. “We’ll just have to live with it,” she said, lamenting the possibility that travel restrictions will return on a large scale.

As of Monday, the White House imposed new restrictions on flights from South Africa and seven neighboring countries, including suspending or limiting entry for non-citizens who have been in those countries within 14 days. United and Delta Airlines have said they will continue to operate flights between the two countries.

Flights from South Africa land daily at all three New York airports. Most have two or more stops along the way, including some stopping in Toronto before arriving at LaGuardia. United and Delta airlines operate direct flights between the two countries. United had a flight from Cape Town that arrived in Newark around 7am on Saturday, and the same flight will land shortly before 7am on Sunday.

From left to right: newlyweds Shaina 25 years old and Neville Gregory 26 years old arrive from Tanzania, Africa at International Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in Queens, NY.  A new Covid-19 variant, the Omicron is found in Africa.
Shaina Gregory claims the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise because “people dropped their guard once the vaccine came out.”
Brigitte Stelzer
Passengers see more flights delayed at International Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in Queens, New York.
Passengers see more flights delayed at International Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in Queens, New York.
Brigitte Stelzer

“It never ends,” said Sandra Bernave, 50, of Queens, who was waiting for a cousin from Ecuador. “It gets worse and worse and worse.”